Author: Lynn Sheffield

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Water for Granted

(Part 4 of 5: Clean Water Epidemic)

Water for Granted

While the United States is busy arguing about what chemicals to add to the water supply, many countries are unable to source enough water for basic needs – including parts of the United States. Did you know that over two thirds of worldwide water usage is for crop irrigation? In contrast, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that “water rather than land is the binding constraint” on crop production in at least a third of the world. It may be easy to write these problems off as being “third world,” however; water shortage is a “world problem” as it impacts our agriculture, our environment, and our health and wellness. As filmmaker Jim Thebaut, CEO and President of the Chronicles Group Inc. (a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising global water issue awareness) concluded, “[Water] is the centerpiece of our existence and it interrelates with everything—agriculture, food supply, energy, public health and all of these issues are really crucial. When you combine these with the problem of population growth—we are now [6.9] billion people going on 9 billion by the year 2050—water is really a major issue.”

waterwarsGlobal Water Perspective

Fred Pierce, environmental writer and author of Transboundary Water: The Geopolitical Struggles for Control, states that “water will be the crucial issues of the 21st century. Once, we took water for granted. Increasingly however, water is not available where we need it or when we need it, and in a growing number of regions, scarce water supplies are limiting development and threatening food security.” Due to dwindling water supplies in many countries, water wars are developing for “water control.” Governments asserting control over existing natural water sources, and displaying aggression with the storage of clean water. Check out this staggering chart, by the World Resources Institute, that displays each countries “water stress” level by the year 2040 – should we continue our current trajectory of water usage.

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Global Farming & Agriculture

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To emphasize his point, many of the world’s largest rivers are severely decreasing in volume, some no longer reaching the sea in certain times of the year. Rivers like the Indus in Pakistan, the Yellow River in China, the Nile in Egypt, the Ganges in South Asia and even the Rio Grande and the Colorado in our own country. As these natural water supplies slowly disappear, many farmers have begun “mining” for their water by pumping groundwater. However, many farmers are utilizing the same sources creating major stress and additional drought conditions. With groundwater being mined 70% faster each decade, many countries are pumping their way into an even greater water crisis. Through importing and exporting, the success of global farming makes a huge impact on the overall global economy and food supply. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that one in every three acres on American farms is planted for export markets and imports give us access to products that would not otherwise be available—such as fresh fruit in the winter. Access to imports boosts the purchasing power of the average American household by about $10,000 annually.

 

“Water is the new oil, set to dominate global geopolitics in the 21st century. It will never become a global commodity like oil, but as the world faces real limits to supplies, and as climate change alters the geography of its availability, water will become an increasingly political issue both within and between countries. We will no longer be able to take water for granted.”

–Fred Pearce

 

Stay tuned for the final part of the Global Water Epidemic:

Become a Catalyst for Change!

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Dirty Water Act

(Part 3 Bonus: Clean Water Act Continued)

Dirty Water Act

dirtywaterIn direct response to the new Clean Water Rule that clarifies and reinforces the Clean Water Act, senate has recently submitted the “Federal Water Quality Protection Act.” However, under this beautifully intentioned title, this act would serve as a direct block to the recent Clean Water Rule. Here is an excerpt from a letter written by concerned citizens, businesses, and environmental specialists and organizations to the Senate dated October 29, 2015 that clearly speaks to the true intention of the “Federal Water Quality Protection Act:”

“This legislation would not only prevent the recently completed rulemaking from being implemented, but also would create new impediments to protecting important waters and creates far more confusion than it resolves. The legislation would make it harder to protect streams and wetlands and would outright direct the agencies to exclude so-called “isolated waters” from being covered by the Clean Water Act. All of these new limitations on the Act’s coverage ignore the copious scientific evidence revealing the important role of headwaters and seasonal and rain dependent waters on downstream water quality. The bill also includes new vague provisions that would add to the confusion, rather than clarify which waters are protected.”

A History of the National Perspective on Waste Water

boat_dumping_waste_1880sboat_dumping_waste_1880sIt may seem absolutely crazy to think about, but there was a time when we dumped as much trash and waste as we wanted, wherever we wanted – neglecting to consider the consequences. As time has gone on, we have realized the impact that these behaviors and lack of regulations have led to devastating issues. Here is a great timeline compiled by the Department of Environmental Equality depicting the National Perspective on Waste and our Water.

Pre-1800: “We’ve always done it this way.”

1800s: “We know water pollution contributes to disease, so we need to tell people they can’t put their garbage in or around water.”

Early 1900s – 1945: “With World War I, the Roaring ’20s, the Great Depression, and World War II, who has time to worry about garbage?”

Post-war Period – 1964: “With prosperity again, we really need to do something. But what?”

1965 – 1991: “It’s time to change the focus of the waste management problem.”

1978 – 1980: “Uh, Washington? New York here. We have a problem.”

Knowledge is Power

voteAlthough you may not work directly in the senate, it’s important to remember that your knowledge has power. Not only is it crucial to be informed of current policies, acts and rules, it’s important to make your voice heard. This can be done simply by your educated voting. Next time you walk into the voting booth, know what items are on the ballot and exactly what your vote means, or you may just be voting yes to toxic dumping in your own backyard.

 

 Catch-up On The Previous Three Blog Posts on the Global Water Crisis:

global_water1How Clean Is Your Tap Water?

Fluoride in Our Drinking Water

Clean Water Act

 

 

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Clean Water Act

(Part 3 of 5: Clean Water Epidemic)

The Clean Water Act

clean_water_act_signingCreated in 1972 as a means of eliminating amount of waste and other pollutants being dumped into our natural water supplies; rivers, lakes, wetlands, bays, etc. However, over the years, the Clean Water Act has become more of a loose “guideline,” as many companies and agencies have begun increasing the amount of waste being dumped into natural water resources. According to Clean Water Action, two polluter friendly Supreme Court decisions are the major culprits. “More than half the nation’s small streams and nearly 20 million acres of wetlands have been vulnerable to pollution and destruction because of confusion about whether or not they are protected under the Clean Water Act.” With over 180 million tons of waste being disposed into our global water supplies, it’s easy to see why people are clamoring for a change!

What’s at Stake?

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Over 117 million Americans depend on these natural water supplies as a primary source for clean drinking water. In fact, one in three Americans get their drinking water from public systems that rely on headwater and seasonal streams. In addition to clean drinking water, wetlands provide flood protection, recharge groundwater supplies, filter pollution, and provide essential wildlife habitat. These resources are also economic drivers for our communities; farming, fishing, hunting, craft-brewers, etc. all depend on clean water. For example, the stream fishing industry generates nearly $115 billion in economic activity per year.

clean_water_and_americansPresent Day Proposals

According to the organization Clean Water Action, in March 2014, President Obama initiated a “long overdue proposal to protect most streams and wetlands,” that will ensure that the drinking water for nearly one third of all Americans is no longer at risk of pollution. Because protection for many of the nation’s streams and wetlands has been confusing, complex, and time-consuming as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006, these new rules are set to clarify any confusion there may have been regarding the original Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Rule will ensure protected waters are more precisely defined, more predictably determined, and easier for businesses and industry to understand. However, with any implementation of rules, there is always an opposition.